DOWNERS GROVE – Picture this: It's Saturday night. You're in the mood to have a stress-free evening, which means you want to do as little planning as possible. Recovering from a long week, you're watching TV with your family in the living room. The three of you glance back and forth from television to computer screens to cellphones, punctuated by short conversations between commercials.
As the hour-long show wraps up, a discussion on dinner takes over. Mom heads to the kitchen to read off a list of nearby favorites' takeout menus, but the silence indicates no one is interested.
It's times like those that you're just looking for a place to kick back and keep it simple, and Mojo's East Coast Eats in Downers Grove hits the spot.
At first glance, the place looks like a typical neighborhood diner. It's a corner restaurant inside a small strip mall off I-355 South near Maple Avenue. What's unique about Mojo's is that owner Jon Scoggin has planted his native East Coast roots in every meal he serves his customers. Scoggin originally grew up about 20 miles outside Philadelphia, and grilled up his first cheesesteaks in Bucks County, Pa.
His experience behind the grill led him to craft two signature dishes – Mojo's cheesesteak and Mojo's cheesesteak hoagie. There's a subtle difference between the two. Both come served with eight ounces of shaved rib eye and grilled onion on a roll direct from Philadelphia's Amoroso bakery, doused with your choice of white American cheese, provolone or Cheez Whiz, a staple ingredient for the authentic Philly palate. The hoagie variation adds tomatoes, shredded lettuce and mayonnaise.
I struggled to make a decision between the two styles, but decided to sink my teeth into the latter. From the first to the last bite, I enjoyed every morsel of my cheesesteak hoagie. The sandwich proved a surprise, because I'd expected a heavy dish, but instead was treated to a light and savory meal, with a serving of hand-cut fries sealing the deal.
My parents went for the Roagie's and The Momo, two of the featured versions of the restaurant's hoagies, which highlight gourmet deli meats. The Roagie's is topped with medium rare, thinly sliced London broil roast beef, provolone, shredded lettuce, tomato, oregano, mayonnaise, and oil and vinegar. The Momo consists of albacore tuna, Swiss cheese, shredded lettuce, tomato, oregano, mayonnaise, and oil and vinegar.
The two submarine sandwiches were refreshing. The heroes, of course, were the roast beef and albacore tuna, complemented but not overpowered by the oil and vinegar, which provided just the right punch.
In addition, we tried a Mojo salad, which was a generous serving of shaved rib eye, bite-size pieces of provolone, romaine lettuce, cucumber and tomato. The family-style dish was another hit.
The restaurant offers an impressive list of cheesesteak and hoagie creations, along with homemade soups, salads, sides, dessert and locally roasted coffee.
As we took turns sharing each others' sandwiches and digging our forks into the large salad bowl, it felt like being at home around the dinner table, and made us glad we'd found our Mojo's.
The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at Suburban Life Media. The diner's identity is not revealed to the restaurant staff before or during the meal. Only positive dining experiences will result in published reviews.